MGNA: Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance

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Summary of Green Line Extension abutters’ meeting

6 March, 2013 (01:14) | Community Event, News | By: Editor


Here is a summary of the Medford Abutters’ Meeting for Phase I of the Green Line Extension project, attended by more than 100 people at the St. Clement School cafeteria on Tuesday night:

Phase I of the project consists of three main elements: reconstruction of the rail bridges over Harvard Street in Medford and over Medford Street in Somerville to accommodate the eventual addition of two Green Line tracks alongside the existing commuter rail tracks, and the demolition of an MBTA building at 21 Water St. in Cambridge, which will become part of the site of the new Lechmere Station.

The Phase I contractor, Barletta Heavy Division Inc., and its subcontractors have 26 months to complete the work – from February 2013 through March 2015.

The Harvard Street bridge reconstruction is the most complex of the three Phase I elements, due to the additional roadway and utility relocation work involved. Reconstructing the Harvard Street bridge and associated work is scheduled to take place from February 2013 to November 2014.

The Harvard Street bridge is located between the Ball Square and College Avenue stations on the Green Line Extension, near St. Clement School and the Tufts Science and Technology Center on Colby Street. It currently has two tracks, which carry commuter rail trains to/from Lowell, the Amtrak Downeaster train to/from Maine, and occasional freight and MBTA work trains.

There are two main aspects to the job – the work that will take place on the bridge to accommodate the Green Line, and the work on the ground such as roadway and utility work to address flooding issues.

Elements of the bridge work for the Green Line include:

+ Construction of abutments, retaining walls and noise walls
+ Raising the bridge by 18 inches
+ Widening the bridge surface to accommodate two additional Green Line tracks
+ Moving the commuter rail tracks east to their new, final location

– Noise walls will be built on top of the retaining walls on both sides of the Harvard Street bridge where the commuter rail tracks are being relocated in this phase (some additional noise walls will be added in Phase 4). The noise walls on the south side of Harvard Street will extend to Winchester Place.

Elements of the roadway/flood control work include:

+ Raising the Harvard Street pavement surface by 15 inches (bridge clearance will remain the same as it is today)

+ Replacing a 19th-century, 24-inch brick storm drain pipe with a modern 30 inch pipe.

– The current pipe runs south from Harvard Street under the commuter rail tracks, then turns east under Winchester Place, then south under Winchester Street to Granville Ave., where it connects to a 30-inch pipe.

– The new pipe will run under Harvard Street east to Winchester Street, then south under Winchester Street to Granville Ave. and its current connection.

– About 80 percent of the current flooding conditions are expected to be alleviated. At times after heavy rains, water has been more than 2 feet deep under the Harvard Street bridge. Following this work, the water depth is expected to be no more than 4 inches deep, or less than curb height.

– The construction of the new draining pipe is expected to take place between April and June of this year. Work will begin at the Granville Ave. end of Winchester Street and be conducted in work zones of about 200 to 250 feet. About 170 feet of Winchester Street will be closed at any one time, with restricted access for an additional 50 to 100 feet on either side.

+ Harvard Street will be reduced to a single lane under the bridge during times of major work such as bridge abutment construction. Lane restrictions are only permitted between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.

+ Harvard Street is expected to be closed entirely on approximately 6 or 7 weekends during the 26 months of the project, and not on consecutive weekends. This would only occur for the demolition or installation of a major section of the bridge, or for the raising of the road surface. The first weekend closure is anticipated in September 2013, with another in June 2014, and the remainder after November 2014.

+ On the weekends of full Harvard Street closure, a detour route has been devised that would include Broadway, Medford Street, Main Street and College Avenue.

+ A rodent control program will be initiated two weeks before construction begins and continue throughout the project. Bait traps are expected to be installed every 60 to 100 feet along the commuter rail tracks, starting next Tuesday, and checked weekly. Rodent activity is most common during excavation work.

+ There will be a separate meeting on noise walls with abutters; the surface treatment and color, etc., are still to be decided.

+ Actual Green Line service to the Ball Square and College Avenue stations in Medford is scheduled to be open in mid-2019, along with service to the stations at Lowell Street and Gilman Square in Somerville. Service at the new Lechmere Station and to the new stations at Union Square and Washington Street in Somerville is scheduled to begin in spring 2017.

Robert Chevrier, principal at St. Clement School raised questions about the impact of the construction noise on classroom sessions; limited pedestrian access to the school, St. Clement Church, and athletic practices at the Tufts field; and the accommodation of after-school pick-up and funeral processions to St. Clement Church. Mayor McGlynn and the project team are scheduled to meet with Mr. Chevrier on Friday to discuss these and other matters.

+ The St. Clement custodian asked whether flooding into the school building could be addressed. The project team noted that in addition to the 30-inch sewer drain pipe being installed, a new pipe also is proposed to be added underneath/across Boston Avenue to relieve some of the upstream runoff.

+ A resident suggested that on the weekends that Harvard Street is closed, the MBTA’s Ride Program could provide free shuttle service to residents who normally walk to services at St. Clement Church.

+ Two residents suggested potential temporary parking locations for residents when their regular parking areas are unavailable or inaccessible.

+ A resident asked about studies of existing noise levels and projected increase; those studies are available on the project website,

+ A resident asked about construction equipment staging and worker parking. Construction vehicles are not allowed to be left on city streets overnight; they will be parked at a surface lot on Harvard Street and within the MBTA right-of-way adjacent to the tracks. Project team subcontractors are informed in advance that there is no employee parking available onsite.

+ Another Phase I construction overview meeting will take place on Thursday, March 14, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Somerville Holiday Inn, 30 Washington Street, Somerville. The presentation at that meeting will be similar to Tuesday’s, with more detail on the Somerville and Cambridge elements of Phase I.

+ Tuesday’s PowerPoint presentation will be posted on the Green Line Extension website,, which contains previous meeting presentations and minutes, reports and studies about the extension project.

+ The website will include two-week “look-aheads” providing advance notice of the upcoming schedule in detail, traffic updates and construction photos.

+ The project team provides project updates via e-mail to more than 6,000 subscribers. To subscribe to the list, send an email to

+ The Phase I construction team has opened a field office at 399 Main Street, Suite 3, in Medford, above the Toni’s by George take-out restaurant.

+ A hotline for questions or concerns has been created at 1-855-GLX-INFO.

Karen Arpino-Shaffer, HDR/Gilbane
Mary Ainsley, Senior Director, MBTA Design and Construction Department
Seta Kalaijian, Barletta Heavy Division, Project Manager
David Shanks, Barletta Heavy Division, Project Superintendent
Peter Matson, HDR/Gilbane
Mike Landry, HDR/Gilbane, Project Engineer
Lauren Nylander, HDR/Gilbane, Senior Office Engineer
Lee McConnell, HDR/Gilbane, Project Manager
Jeff Sarin, MBTA, Green Line Extension Project Manager
Tim Sheehan, HDR/Gilbane, Project Manager
Bill McClellan, MBTA Head of Green Line Operations

Michael J. McGlynn, Mayor
Leo A. Sacco Jr., Police Chief
Fred Dello Russo Jr., City Councilor
Cassandra Koutalidis, City Engineer
Paul Mochi, Building Commissioner
Paul Gere, Commissioner of Public Works
Joe Hurley, Superintendent of Wires
Clodagh Stoker-Long, Economic Development Planner, Community Development
Laura Glynn, Housing Development Specialist, Community Development

– Ken Krause, Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance

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